Book Review: Woman last seen in her Thirties by Camille Pagan (And a few side notes about the movie “Gloria Bell”)

2018, 246 pages

It struck me today after I watched the movie “Gloria Bell” starring Julieanne Moore that this book and the movie have similar heroines, both women in their mid-fifties facing life without the husbands they once relied upon. Gloria is much more in-your-face than Maggie of the book, but they both struggle with what it means to be a woman of “A certain age” with needs and desires, both portrayed as young (ish) and attractive, yet certain parts of their psyche remain damaged and afraid to foray into love, lust, and the whole damned man-thing again.

Maggie is despondent and unable to believe that her husband is really gone until she shakes herself out of her funk by making the decision to take a trip planned for two by herself. Her trip is fortuitous in many ways, and I liked that Ms. Pagan didn’t tie Maggie up in a foreign-so-impossible love affair for the rest of the book. The trip is a catalyst for Maggie to begin to step out of her box a little more when she returns home. Unlike Gloria, (of the aforementioned movie) she doesn’t step too far out of line. However, like Gloria, she is a mother who has a deep and abiding affection for her grown progeny, and the relationships are one of the steadying factors in the lives of both women. Both know who they are and what they stand for, but each have an adventurous side that becomes apparent pretty quickly. (And neither have screwed-up kids, which is refreshing.)

Maggie is a fully-formed character, sketched with a deft hand by Ms. Pagan. I would not have minded at all if she had a few more quirks, just to show and not tell the reader that she is a real person facing real issues in her life. She is a character I can relate to, and I like that the author moves her along in her journey through despair to a hopeful future. There is not much melodrama here, Gloria could show Maggie a thing or two about character flaws! However, the overall feeling I got from the book was warm and sweet, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Yes, this review is mainly about the book (So if you love women’s fiction / romance, read it) and just in case you didn’t guess already, I loved “Gloria Bell.” If you love flawsome (Flawed and awesome) women characters, you will really dig this movie!

Good for romance/ women’s fiction aficionados 3.5/4
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